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Chris Addison: Civilization

Note: This review is from 2004

Review by Steve Bennett

For his theme this year, Chris Addison has chosen to tackle the five and half millennia of human civilisation ­ which he infuriatingly insists on spelling the American way ­ and how we might rebuild another should the one we've got collapse.

It's an ambitious scope ­ or is it? On the one hand, the social history of human interaction and its organisation into hierarchical systems are highfalutin ideas to discuss in a stand-up show; on the other there's not much material that doesn't, somehow, fall into the category of 'the last 5,500 years'. Mastermind certainly would allow it as a specialist subject.

Indeed, Addison somehow manages to shoehorn in a five-minute routine about taking an incontinent child on to the London Eye, which you might think a little off-topic, to say the least.

But the thing is, it doesn't really matter one jot. Addison is a talented, if underrated, comedian who bashes out the gags fast, efficient and funny. You're bustled though his impressive material with little time to stop for breath or idle thought, trying to keep pace as he races through topics as varied and original as necromancy, hieroglyphics and defibrillators. Not your everyday comedy staples, for sure.

He makes it all look so easy, too, with an apparently effortless delivery that makes full use of the space, his natural comic timing and his middle-class 'nice young man' persona, Or ponce, as he puts it.

And though, list most comics, he adopts a left-leaning liberal approach, he can often be truly unkind with his venomously barbed asides, and is all the better for it. But don't be fooled, his real ire is aimed at the intolerant Daily Mail classes, and his mockery of the indignant, ulcer-inducing rage of its rabid readers is spot on.

Such pieces are so strong that the supposed theme of the night is easily forgotten ­ by audience and comic alike. Addison repeatedly has to bring his thesis back on track by unveiling another tenet of civilisation to be discussed, kick-starting another segment of the show.

As a show, it's flawed by this inconsistency between the theme and the content. But as pure entertainment, you can't really go wrong.

Review date: 1 Jan 2004
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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